Martirosyan on wrong end of close decision against Jermell Charlo

LAS VEGAS — Vanes “Nightmare” Martirosyan moved forward and stalked. Jermell Charlo stayed to the outside and danced.

At the end of 10 closely contested rounds, it was the footwork and jab of Charlo that prevailed over Martirosyan with a unanimous decision Saturday night in Las Vegas at The Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort.

Glendale’s Martirosyan (35-2-1, 21 knockouts) lost for the second time in his professional career, while Charlo (26-0, 11 KOs) remained undefeated. Final scores were 96-94 twice and 97-93. The Glendale News-Press scored it an even 95-95 draw.

“I’m 100% positive that I won this fight,” Martirosyan said. “I was pushing the action. All he was doing was running.”

While Martirosyan was most certainly the aggressor, he never put forth the pressure that has been a signature in his career’s better performances.

“I definitely expected a rougher fight,” Charlo said. “This was easy compared to what I thought I was in for.”

Final punch stat numbers told the tale as Charlo threw 310 punches with 212 being jabs and 53 connecting. Martirosyan threw 175 power punches to 98 from Charlo, with Martirosyan connecting with 48 to Charlo’s 39.

Martirosyan, following his first career loss in November of 2011, had looked impressive in running off two straight dominant wins, but Charlo proved hard to find in the ring. The bout didn’t make for a satisfying one for the crowd, either, with the lack of action early drawing jeers and the final verdict doing the same.

“I was never hurt, but I thought I hurt him,” Martirosyan said.

Both fighters landed solid shots in spots, though neither ever appeared to be stunned. Martirosyan’s most effective punch was often his right cross, while Charlo’s was clearly his left jab. However, the most telling impact was had by a head butt in the eighth round sustained by Martirosyan over the left eye.

The fight got off to a tentative start with crisp jabs from each fighter the only punches early on. A counter left hook and a straight right from Charlo were the best punches landed midway through. Martirosyan flurried just before the bell, though.

Martirosyan turned up the output in the second round and began to mix up body and head shots.

A big one-two in the third saw a right straight by Charlo stand as the biggest blow of the bout up to that point. Martirosyan landed a solid right uppercut, but Charlo immediately followed with a stiff left jab and a good right follow. For the most part, Charlo danced on the outside and pecked away with his jab.

A stiff right cross by Martirosyan was the best shot of the fourth round, but Charlo continued to frustrate his opponent by dancing on the outside and also landed a pair of good rights and jabs.

In the fifth, for the first time it was Martirosyan on the outside for a bit, but Charlo picked up his aggression and output.

Charlo continued to deliver with jab in the sixth and found Martirosyan with his left hook on occasion.

Martirosyan was the aggressor and began landing well in spots in the seventh as he continued to move forward.

In the eighth, Charlo came out aggressive, tripling up a jab and the two came together and Martirosyan took a head butt to the left eye. After the doctor took a break, Martirosyan came out as if he were shot out of a cannon. While the action didn’t sustain for the remainder of the round, Martirosyan continued to look strong.

The ninth round was another close one, with Martirosyan landing and doing more, but taking the two best shots.

Martirosyan closed out strong in the 10th or at least it appeared so. It was given to Martirosyan on two of three cards.

“I felt that I boxed smart in the ring,” Charlo said, “and when I had to pick it up, I knew what time it was.”